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New paper: Consistency of satellite climate data records for Earth system monitoring

Studying the Earth system relies on the combined analysis of many variables, often drawn from a diversity of sources. A comprehensive definition of ‘consistency’ between Climate Data Records has however been missing, until now. 

New paper: Consistency of satellite climate data records for Earth system monitoringResearchers from the ESA Climate Change Initiative tackle the issue of consistency between satellite-based Climate Data Records (CDRs), in a new paper published today [3 July,2020] in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Satellite observations are of ever-growing importance. The ESA Climate Change Initiative for example coordinates climate data records for 21 of 54 Essential Climate Variables to provide the evidence base to support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process; improve prediction of future change; and assess progress towards Paris Agreement targets geared to averting serious global warming. 

With around 1,000 different satellite-based CDRs and related products already available or planned the issue of consistency is of growing importance for the climate research community.

Meet the Experts: Weather vs. Climate

Ice and snow can be a hot topic when talking about climate. The polar regions are very fragile and can tell us a lot about how Earth’s climate is changing. Andrew Shepherd of the University of Leeds is the science leader for the Climate Change Initiative's Antarctic Ice Sheet project and IMBIE projects.

In this episode he explains how we can separate the effects of weather versus climate from data records and the role of space in studying changes to our planet in real-time and in the future.

Climate Change Initiative launches new research fellowship

Early-career researchers are invited to submit projects proposals to a new fellowship call to implement leading-edge research that contributes to the aim of the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) programme.

Successful research projects will make use of ESA data and Earth Observation assets and be undertaken over a two-year period, starting in January-March 2021. Up to €99000 is available per project which shall be co-funded by a host institution.

Thematic areas of particular interest:-

  • Exploiting Essential Climate Variable (ECV) products from CCI for improved understanding of climate change.
  • Examining cross-ECV consistency and multiple ECV use (those under the CCI Programme in particular)
  • Enhancing interactions between CCI members and other Earth science laboratories, research centres and universities

Projects that address cross-ECV research topics are also welcome.

Application information

To respond to this call you must submit all of the documents described in Section 2.2 of the Call for Research Proposals (Appendix 1).

This call is open, and proposals may be submitted via email to climate.office@esa.int until the closing date of 8 August, 2020 (at 24:00 CEST).

Research Proposal Package

Meet the experts: ocean views from space

Earth observation satellites are guardians of our planet. Thanks to remote sensing technology and daily data collection, researchers are able to better monitor our planet's oceans and rising sea levels from space. ESA senior advisor for Earth Observation programmes Jérôme Beneviste explains how ocean views from space play a role in climate change studies and natural catastrophe predictions.

The ESA Climate Change Initiative is generating long-term climate datasets required to meet the needs of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). These include records for several ocean variables including sea level, sea state, ocean colour, sea surface temperature, sea ice and sea surface salinity.

Snow mass estimates now more reliable

A new study in the journal Nature by reseachers from the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) and the Environment and Climate Change Canada produce the first reliable estimate of snow mass change and has helped to identify different continental trends.

Using the new GlobSnow 3.0 dataset they show that the 1980–2018 annual maximum snow mass in the Northern Hemisphere was, on average, 3,062 ± 35 billion tonnes.

Using a bias correction method they reduce uncertainty from 33% to 7.4%.

Paper: Pulliainen, J., Luojus, K., Derksen, C. et al. Patterns and trends of Northern Hemisphere snow mass from 1980 to 2018. Nature 581, 294–298 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2258-0

Simulations suggest ice-free Arctic summers by 2050

A new analysis, using global climate models, predicts that most of the Arctic Ocean could become ice-free during summer by 2050. This new forecast, which used continuous and consistent satellite observations generated via ESA’s Climate Change Initiative, suggests that the future of the Arctic’s sea-ice cover critically depends on future carbon dioxide emissions.

Each year, Arctic sea ice goes through a seasonal cycle, growing in area and thickness through the cooler winter months before shrinking back again as temperatures rise in the spring and summer, with the minima occurring usually in September.

Since satellite-based measurements have begun in the 1970s, data show a trend of more ice melting away during summers and less new ice forming during winters. The daily Arctic sea-ice extent minimum in September 2019 was the second lowest in the 40-year satellite record. 

In a recent study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, scientists from 21 research institutes simulated the evolution of Arctic sea-ice using 40 different global climate models. The models encompass various hypothetical scenarios, including trajectories based on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Shedding light on the ocean’s living carbon pump

New research from our Ocean Colour project, has produced a 20-year time-series of global primary production in the oceans – shedding new light on the ocean’s living carbon pump.

Published in the journal Remote Sensing, the research, led by Gemma Kulk of Plymouth Marine Laboratory, found that global annual primary production varied around 38 to 42 gigatonnes of carbon per year between 1998-2018.

>>> Full news story

Call for abstracts: 10th International Workshop on Sea Ice Modelling, Assimilation, Observations, Predictions & Verification

ESA's Climate Change Initiative Sea Ice project is holding a joint workshop to discuss cross-cutting issues in sea ice modelling and assimilation and how deficiencies of current systems can be more efficiently diagnosed and addressed.

!0th international workshop on sea ice modelling, assimilation, observations, predictions and verification

General topics and format:

Keynote, contributed presentations and poster sessions (contributions from attendees is engouraged) covering -

Climate Change Initiative project presentations at EGU 2020

Several speakers from CCI projects are presenting at the virtual  European Geosciences Union (EGU) conference from 4-8 May. Details are below:

Monday, 4 May

Data products from the ESA CCI Sea Level Budget Closure project
Martin Horwath and the Sea Level Budget Closure CCI Team
Mon, 04 May, 08:30-10:15 | D3799
EGU2020-12811 | Displays | CL4.5

Global validation of the ESA CCI+ Sea Surface Salinity  
Adrien Martin, Sébastien Guimbard, Jacqueline Boutin, Nicolas Reul, and Rafael Catany
Mon, 04 May, 08:30-10:15 | D2873 | EGU2020-11683 | Displays | OS4.5

Overview of the CCI+SSS project
Jacqueline Boutin, Nicolas Reul, Julia Koehler, Adrien Martin, Rafael Catany, and Climate Change Initiative Salinity Consortium
Mon, 04 May, 08:30-10:15 | D2864 | EGU2020-7513 | Displays | OS4.5

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